Turkey - Aegean Interior
Inland from the Aegean Sea, the fertile soil has endured the passage of many important early civilizations. Today the remains of these cultures can still be seen in the countryside, as well as in the cities, towns and villages. The more recent legacy of Ottoman rule is apparent in the well-preserved, traditional domestic Turkish architecture and Ottoman Mosques. Resorts have been built around the region's hot springs, beckoning those seeking their pleasurable and beneficial effects.
The attractive Aegean city of Manisa preserves several splendid examples of Seljuk and Ottoman architecture. Endowed by Ayse Sultana, mother of Suleyman the Magnificent, the Sultan Mosque was built early in the 16th century. Every year in April, on the grounds of the mosque, a festival is held celebrating Mesir Macunu, a sticky elixir that reputedly cured the sultan's ailing mother. The 16th-century Muradiye Mosque was designed by the great architect Sinan.
The adjacent medrese, or theological college, houses the Archaeological Museum. The annual Harvest Festival begins in September when the fruits of the vineyards are harvested amid great celebration. The region's numerous vineyards produce grapes that are then dried for export. South of the city lies the Sipil Dagi National Park, home of the famous "crying rock" of Niobe. If you travel to the northeast you come to Gordes, a pleasant town particularly known for its fine carpets.
The ruins of ancient Sart (Sardis), once the capital of the Lydian realm of Croesus, lie on the Sart Cayi (Pactole River) plain. The world's first coins were minted here. The Temple of Artemis and a restored gymnasium testify to the city's past splendor, as does the important third century A.D. synagogue. On the south side of Sardis, Mt. Boz (ancient Mt. Tmolus) is good for hiking and other mountain sports.
Historically, Usak was an important carpet weaving center, a role it continues to play today. Visitors find the Archaeology Museum informative and interesting. The Kaftanci House Museum, along with the Ataturk Ethnography Museum, displays plays wonderful Usak carpets and kilims in Ataturk's former residence.
The 226-meter high Afyon citadel dates back to 1350 B.C. and is ascended by means of stairs carved out of rock. It was used by Hittites and Phrygians. There are remains of a temple dedicated to the goddess Cybele near the citadel. The Archaeological Museum and the War of Independence Memorial underline Afyon's place in history. Monumental bas-reliefs, a legacy of the Phrygian Kingdom, are carved into rock faces on hills north of the city. Aslantas is the largest. At Aslankaya, lion reliefs decorate the rock outcroppings.
The Acik Hava Muzesi (Open-Air Museum) is near the north entrance of the town of Dinar, 100 km south of Afyon. This is the site of the mythical music contest between Apollo and Marsyas (Pan). Byzantine and Roman gravestones, inscriptions and statues can be seen here.
Kutahya is one of the oldest Turkish cities, with many old Turkish traditions still being practiced today. It is home to important Ottoman architectural monuments, including a castle, mosques, medreses, baths, complexes, mausoleums, and mansions. One of the finest mosques is the 14th century Ulu Mosque. Kutahya Castle offers a wonderful, panoramic view of the old town on the western side of the city. The Kutahya Archaeology Museum was a medrese in the 14th century that now displays ethnographia, Roman and Byzantine relics, and Iznik and Kutahya tiles from Ottoman times. Lajos Kossuth, the 19th century Hungarian hero, lived with his family in what is now the Kossuth House Museum, where relics and documents related to Kossuth are exhibited.
The kilns of Kutahya produced exquisite ceramics since the 16th and 17th centuries. You can visit the workshops where skilled artisans produce tiles, plates and bowls renowned for their cobalt blue patterns on a milky white background.
Southwest of Kutahya is the Roman town of Cavdarhisar (Aizanoi) where a theater, stadium and the Temple of Zeus remain. In the same direction, Murat Mountain offers camping facilities and hot springs amid delightful scenery. Near Dumlupinar are the Baskomutan National Park and the War of Independence memorials.
Turkey - North Aegean
Turkey - Assos (Behramkale)
Turkey - Canakkale
Turkey - Aegean Interior
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